The Nature of Human Persons
Metaphysics and Bioethics
422 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268107734 | June 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268107758 | June 2020
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268107765 | June 2020
Is there a shared nature common to all human beings? What essential qualities might define this nature? These questions are among the most widely discussed topics in the history of philosophy and remain subjects of perennial interest and controversy. The Nature of Human Persons offers a metaphysical investigation of the composition of the human essence. For a human being to exist, does it require an immaterial mind, a physical body, a functioning brain, a soul? Jason Eberl also considers the criterion of identity for a developing human being—that is, what is required for a human being to continue existing as a person despite undergoing physical and psychological changes over time? Eberl's investigation presents and defends a theoretical perspective from the thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas. Advancing beyond descriptive historical analysis, this book places Aquinas’s account of human nature into direct comparison with several prominent contemporary theories: substance dualism, emergentism, animalism, constitutionalism, four-dimensionalism, and embodied mind theory. These theories inform various conclusions regarding when human beings first come into existence—at conception, during gestation, or after birth—and how we ought to define death for human beings. Finally, each of these viewpoints offers a distinctive rationale as to whether, and if so how, human beings may survive death. Ultimately, Eberl argues that the Thomistic account of human nature addresses the matters of human nature and survival in a much more holistic and desirable way than the other theories and offers a cohesive portrait of one’s continued existence from conception through life to death and beyond.
Jason T. Eberl is professor of health care ethics and director of the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University. He is the author of a number of books, including Contemporary Controversies in Catholic Bioethics.
“There are innumerable books in bioethics, but none that take up issues of human anthropology in anything like the depth found in Jason T. Eberl’s The Nature of Human Persons.” —Christopher Kaczor, author of Abortion Rights: For and Against~Christopher Kaczor, Loyola Marymount University
"Readers interested in a sophisticated application of Thomistic thought to contemporary ethics will find this an important book, especially because Eberl avoids the common pitfall of allowing his text to become bogged down in debates over the proper interpretation of Aquinas." —Choice